Less than 36 hours after free agency started, the Pacers and Lance Stephenson are “at impasse,” according to Chris Broussard of ESPN, who just tweeted the following:
“Sources: L Stephenson & Pacers at impasse. Indy offers 5 yrs/$44 mill. Lance wants more, will talk to others. Chi, LAL, Hornets interested.”
Yesterday, Candace Buckner of the Indy Star reported that top Pacers exec Larry Bird has set a fixed price he won’t exceed in contract negotiations.
Is $44 million over five years that top number?
In looking at the team’s payroll situation, I speculated that the ceiling would run closer to $49 million over five years, so if the figure Broussard report is correct than the Pacers are coming in lower than their the highest offer they can make whole still staying under the luxury tax threshold.
The good news for those who want to see Lance return, however, is the five-year part. Per CBA rules, Indiana is the only team that can offer five years and they are reportedly willing to do that.
So if Stephenson wants more guaranteed money than $44 million, he will need to find a team willing to pay him an average of $11 million or more over the next four years. That certainty isn’t out of the question, but it is likely a figure at which many teams will begin to question how badly they want the emotional young talent recently removed from an antics-full Eastern Conference Finals.
Then again, Lance and his agent may well be looking at his age and how seemingly LeBron-like durability while prioritizing career earning potential over upfront guaranteed money. In that case, something around $40 million over four years — or even $36 million over three — could look a lot more appealing.
Presumably Stephenson will now meet with other teams and wait for the offers to stay piling up.